And yet another breathtaking adventurous approach of Markus Reuter (as always with great collaborators) to the fine art of progressive music. Mind you, I'm a big fan of what should be (and is) called retro prog, but if you're looking for something really progressive, don't look for, say, Wobbler (I love them!), but probably in this direction ;-)
Favorite track: The Occult (Dice I).
"Oculus" has quickly become one of my favorite Markus Reuter releases. Markus used a different Oculus grid structure for each track here to limit what each of the musicians could play during each of the improvisations. These inherent limitations eliminated the cliche "licks" that usually occur for many musicians during improvisation. All of the musicians involved are amazing and worked together here perfectly. For listeners who like innovative music that pushes boundaries, this is a must.
Favorite track: Nothing is Sacred (Dice II).
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Pure genius: exposed and documented. It's jazz; but sort of "anti-jazz," too. It's progressive, yet clearly supersedes any preexisting templates or traditional standards. It's avant-garde, while soaring above and beyond typical confines, there, as well. And it's 'free jazz,' but with preconceived structure of sorts.
One of the 21st century's most joyously unconventional, innovative musicians and composers, Markus Reuter, under the auspices of MoonJune Records, is pleased to offer the initial Oculus project, "Nothing Is Sacred": an album which hails as one of the most brilliant, spellbinding and 'immediately essential' ensemble works in decades. Joined by a stellar cast – featuring legendary King Crimson alumnus, violinist/keyboardist, David Cross; the extraordinary veteran timekeeper Asaf Sirkis, and fretless bass virtuoso (and renowned producer) Fabio Trentini; with contributions from fellow guitar pioneer, Mark Wingfield, and the iconic West Coast USA ambient pioneer, keyboardist Robert Rich – Markus employs a more premeditated, disciplined, yet radically divergent approach to group performance on this monumental session. In the process, new avenues for even more profound levels of musical communication are ventured.
"This is insane music. I used a compositional system that basically disallowed the musicians to play intuitively. They had to follow rules which served to create really strange melodies and harmonies," Markus revealed. "In the back of my mind, I wanted to create something as fundamentally radical as was (Miles Davis') 'Bitches Brew,' back in the day ... sort of an improvising 'big band' – where each player is on their own when it comes to specific pitches, but connected in terms of a common rhythmic grid and unified texture."
Recorded live in the studio (at the 4th annual MoonJune gathering, at La Casa Murada, Catalunya, Spain), every song is a mesmerizing journey, weaving seamlessly between various coarse and fine textures, where moments of tranquil harmony magically morph into spells of delightfully chaotic dissonance, stampeding one minute, and tip-toeing, the next.
Within the context of such challenging musical environs, some extraordinarily gifted, visionary players emote with defiant abandon, somehow, never discarding their unified 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts' mindset or their polished collective dynamic swagger. Such paradoxes abound throughout this timeless classic.
Five extended compositions are thoroughly probed, despite the inherently reverential treatment they receive from the participating artists. Exhibitions of musical brilliance are overshadowed by the abstruse ingenuity of the foundation upon which they're constructed, amalgamated sonic offerings take on a life of their own.
released August 6, 2020
Markus Reuter (Touch Guitars® AU8, Soundscapes, Keyboards)
David Cross (Fender Rhodes, Electric Violin)
Fabio Trentini (Bass)
Asaf Sirkis (Drums, Percussion)
Mark Wingfield (Electric Guitar)
Robert Rich (Textures)
Recorded at La Casa Murada, Spain, on May 15 2019.
Written by Markus Reuter
Performed by Reuter/Trentini/Sirkis/Cross.
Overdubbed by Wingfield / Rich.
Recording Engineer: Jesus Rovira.
Mixed by Fabio Trentini and Markus Reuter.
Mastered by Lee Fletcher.
Produced by Markus Reuter and Fabio Trentini.
Executive Producer, Project Initiator and Facilitator: Leonardo Pavkovic.
Digital Artwork by Markus Reuter.
Layout by Bernhard Wöstheinrich.
Markus Reuter is a German composer who has earned critical acclaim throughout Europe, Japan, North and South America for his work as a composer, guitar player, guitar designer, sound designer, producer and teacher.
VANTOMME is project of DOMINIQUE VANTOMME from Belgium (Fender Rhodes, Moog, piano, mellotron), with TONY LEVIN (bass, stick), MICHEL DELVILLE (guitar), MAXIME LENSSENS (drums). Psychedelic prog. Markus Reuter
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Another stellar release from this long-lived ensemble. Though the King Crimson influence is obvious & that comparison unavoidable, these guys have made many great recordings that can't be categorized as 'mere copies'. The perfect balance of aggressive riffing and serene soundscapes. Stephen Roberts